Ask me Anything

Hello everybody,

at the SotM-EU conference parts of the board will tomorrow at 11 UTC (12 local time) participate in an Ask-me-Anything session.

If you have questions that you would like to be answered by the board then feel free to post them here or come in and just ask if you are also at the conference.



Here is my question, which you are free to rephrase, shorten, or omit as needed:

(Meta mapmaking) Utilizing Map-Making Expertise for Strategic Community Development in OSMF

We are a community of mapmakers, but can the knowledge related to mapmaking be applied in other areas as well?
For example, we use maps to understand our current location and to determine the most optimal route to our desired destination.
Based on the newly adopted OpenStreetMap Foundation strategy, could we create a visual map that clearly illustrates where we are now and which direction we should aim for? This map would proportionally represent distances and areas, and it would also mark hazardous zones to help us avoid them.

In other words, should we, and if yes, how can we use visual mapping in the life of the OSM(F) community as a kind of community dogfooding methodology?

For instance, we might consider creating not just a visual strategy map but also maps of OSM communities similar to the XKCD ‘Online Communities’ map.

It is not a pleasant topic, but what of Board/Minutes/2023-09 - OpenStreetMap Foundation leading to discussion about the “Proposed draft policy on project-wide suspensions and bans”?

Sadly, there are occasions of behavior in OSM so egregious in our wiki, forums, changeset comments and other venues, this eventually (and correctly) turns into a mild (weeks, months) or moderate ban (say one-year-long from any participation whatsoever in the entirety of the project) to a full (lifetime) ban. Because of real harm caused to our communities from this sort of behavior, this truly deserves wide OSM discussion.

Where shall we have this discussion, Roland? (The proposed draft policy linked above ends with “Implementation details left to Roland Olbricht.”) Thank you in advance.


  • probably this is → : Global Ban Policy
  • my general opinion: The OpenStreetMap Foundation Privacy Policy is not referred to or integrated into the Global Ban Policy. Given the sensitive nature of banning users, it’s essential to align both policies. ( → So not a GDPR compatible yet )
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@ImreSamu, kösönöm (thank you) for that link (to the GBP topic here). I totally missed that and I’m getting caught up on reading it now.

Still, it would be good if @drolbr were to chime in here and say “yes, that (linked topic) looks like a good venue for community discussion of the topic.” (He has the authority to make such a determination, but until he does, we are not sure).


From the OSMF Privacy Policy:

  • you can select a non identifying login name and change it at any time you want,

Miscreants when identified are identified by this login name, not by real name or other PII.

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As board member I can confirm that Global Ban Policy thread fully implemented that

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It is not GDPR violation to ban abusive users and to process data in extent necessary to prevent abusive, illegal or malicious behaviour.

Privacy policy you linked explicitly mentions such purpose of data processing.


The latest banned user from OpenStreetMap used a real person’s name, specifically Adam Ant (referenced here: Adam Ant on Wikipedia). In the initial report, their email address was also published.

If someone trolls using your name or mine, why should we reward them by publishing their actions on the OpenStreetMap Foundation’s website, making it searchable by Google? This could lead to a competition among trolls to see who can get listed on the OSMF website fastest.

To avoid potential abuses, I suggest that only the initials or the first few letters of the name should be published. Full details and the actual username could then be accessible to OpenStreetMap members after they log in.

Additionally, there’s the issue of the right to be forgotten. When will the information be removed from the website? Will it stay there for 100 years, even for a minor ban?

Or, er, this fictional character, or the mineral that that was named after. I doubt anyone is confused about any of the four idenities (mineral, TV character, singer, OSMer) here.


The GDPR question was asked at the AMA. The response is there is a legitimate interest for identifying banned users.

I agree. To deal with persistent trolls, we need to know who they are. We’re identifying them by their user name, not real identity.


Do we have a link to the policy on the foundation wiki? I just found the link to the board discussion.

It’s been here since 30th September, I think. GDPR isn’t expressly mentioned on the page itself but I’d be surprised if anyone thought that it needed to be.

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